New Palaeontological Research in Barová (Sobolova) Cave, Moravian Karst: Preliminary Report

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Acta Mus. Moraviae, Sci. Geol. 98 (2013), issue 1, pages 111–127

New Palaeontological Research in Barová (Sobolova) Cave, Moravian Karst: Preliminary Report

Barová cave is located in the central part of the Moravian Karst Protected Area, Moravia, Czech Republic, in the right slope of Josefovské/Křtinské valley. The cave had been discovered in 1947 by A. Sobol and his companions as a complicated system of corridors, shafts and domes, part of the Býší skála/Rudické propadání (Bull Rock) cave system. Since the discovery, many bone remains have been found, mainly in the entrance part of the cave (from the entrance chamber to the Shaft I and Shaft II).

In 1958, R. Musil excavated other bone material in the distal part of the entrance corridor to the cave (Komínový dóm) and described several taxa of Pleistocene fauna (Ursus ex gr. spelaeus, Crocuta crocuta spelaea, Panthera spelaea, Capra ibex, Equus sp. and others). Later, in 1983, new excavations as the part of archaeological and palaeoanthropological research, were carried out by L. Seitl and J. Svoboda. Within it, a new test pit in Medvědí chodba (Bear passage) was excavated, sedimentary sequence was described and new paleontological material was collected (mainly Ursus ex gr. spelaeus, Crocuta crocuta spelaea, Coelodonta antiquitatis as the prey remain, and other taxa). No other research went on, until 2011. The landslide in Shaft II opened basal part of the bone sediments then, as the overlying formation of a huge sedimentary profile in the western slope of the shaft. In spite of instability and consequential danger, members of Bull Rock Speleological Group of the Czech Speleological Society in cooperation with Anthropos Institute of the Moravian Museum, started to restore the locality and re-open three test pits in fossiliferous sediments: Medvědí chodba (Bear passage), Liščí chodba (Fox passage) and Pod žebříkem (Under the Ladder) test pits.

Three distinctive layers are present within the studied area. Layer A made mostly of grey brown clay sediments, presently almost excavated and missed. Layer B is probably the main part of the sedimentary tongue. It includes many bone remains of Pleistocene fauna, clayish and sandy fillings (similar mostly to A) and sharp edged limestone blocks, combined with sandstone, quartzite and silicite stones. Abundance of the bone remains varies intensely. Layer C is the base of the sedimentary tongue settling on the underlying (presumably much older) sediments, fillings are made mostly of the reddish clay, limestone blocks are rare there, bone remains present massively concentrated, crashed and pressured by overlying sediments, often demineralized.

Palaeontological research (started in 2011) still goes on. Until now, these taxa have been excavated: Ursus ex gr. spelaeus (dominating), Panthera spelaea, Canis lupus, Crocuta crocuta spelaea, Capra ibex, Rangifer tarandus, Cervus sp., Equus sp., Vulpes sp., Lepus sp. More detailed osteological research is made from Liščí chodba test pit by now, where bone remains have been excavated from layers B and C (layer A was badly damaged by cavers before). 227 bone remains are now determined. Most of them is the cave bear (Ursus ex gr. spelaeus), dominating with 93%, followed by the wolf (Canis lupus), cave lion (Panthera spelaea) and cave hyena (Crocuta crocuta spelaea). Cave bear remains originate from at least nine individuals, six adults and three juveniles, other taxa origin each other from at least one adult individual. All parts of bear skeletons are present here, both from layer B and C, no separation visible. The bones of senile and very young juvenilie bears are comparatively rare, layer C is slightly more abundant with other taxa (lion, hyena and wolf bones). About each fifteenth bone (7,6 %) is chewed or shows biting traces.

The important find goes from the Pod žebříkem (Under the Ladder) test pit. Almost complete cave lion (Panthera spelaea) skull with lower jaw, belonging to a young female (cranial seams are not fused), followed with the find of the fully adult male braincase with incomplete right upper jaw and remains of the left (cranial seams mostly closed, teeth P3 and P4 sin. and dext. visibly worn down). Some parts of postcranial skeleton of the female were found there, too (both tibiae, cervical vertebrae, calcaneus, patella, metapodials, phalanges, scapulae etc.). Following excavations are still bringing new discoveries of cave lion bones in Pod žebříkem test pit. All test areas will be preserved for the next studies.


Martina Roblíčková, Anthropos Institute, Moravian Museum, Zelný trh 6, 659 37 Brno, Czech Republic,
Vlastislav Káňa, Czech Speleological Society, privat: Křižanov 330, 594 51, Czech Republic,

Roblíčková, M., Káňa, V., 2013: Předběžná zpráva o novém paleontologickém výzkumu v jeskyni Barové (Sobolově), Moravský kras. – Acta Mus. Morav., Sci. Geol., 98, 1, 111–127 (with English summary)
ISSN: 1211–8796